There is a popular saying, give yourself a pat on the back. This is a form of self-love. We have been told multiple times that self-love is important. As adolescents, we have learned self-love through songs and books. In modern times, I believe we have left ourselves behind to devote our love to other areas. Many of us may take more pride in our career than our mental and physical wellbeing. Countless times you may hear someone state that they love going on vacation with their friends or family but during that vacation they may engulf themselves in work. This creates very little space to enjoy your vacation and focus on rejuvenating yourself. In this process, you are not only abandoning your needs for a break but you may also begin creating distance among your family or friends during the vacation.
Today, we are faced with a dilemma, how do you balance a rewarding career and self-love?
Is it possible to obtain continuous financial growth and put your needs first as well?
The word love has several definitions but the one I associate with the most is an intense feeling of deep affection. Love is derived from an Old English word lufu which means dear.
Now reflect on those words and the true meaning of love. Most of us can associate with a deep feeling regarding work whether it is positive or negative. After gaining the knowledge of the true meaning of love I began to wonder do I really love my career? Although I enjoy the benefits and financial rewards of my career, I did not obtain a definite answer to this question. Since my heart did not feel a positive connection with my career, I then posed the next question; is my career dear to me? I was redirected to the joyous feeling of financial stability not realising that it still did not truly answer my question. In that very moment, I began to question my love for myself and if I was neglecting my mental and physical wellbeing to please my upper management. To answer my own question, I had to dig deeper. I reflected on my daily routine. My routine was the same every morning, I arose early and gave myself enough time to get dressed and arrive to my clients ten minutes early. Between the time, it took to awake and commute I had no time to eat breakfast in my own home. As the months pasted I began to tell myself that I would wake up earlier and try to exercise then have breakfast and head to work for a productive day. Unfortunately, I was never able to get out of bed any earlier than I had before.
On my off days, I would lounge in my sleepwear and binge watch shows while ordering take out from Door Dash. As one can observe, I was very unproductive when I was not working. I reflected on the person I had become to satisfy my wallet and my job. Although I had lost most of my energy when my off days arrived, I was very productive at work if I was called to fill a shift on my off day. I enjoyed assisting my clients and taking care of their needs but I began neglecting myself in the process. I began to work over seventy -five hours a week giving myself very little free time to rejuvenate myself. Once I took a step back and evaluated the person I had become, I realised that I did not love the image that was staring back at me.
My heart was crying out for a change from the rat race but I felt fulfilled financially and at the time it appeared to be more than enough. I continued to desert myself until one day I entered a dark space. I went through a series of loss and pain which caused an overwhelming emotion to consume me. When I looked into the mirror I did not love the person that stood before me, I loathe the image. I felt lost, therefore I did what I thought would fulfil me and bring happiness back into my life. I poured myself into my career, neglecting my partner and many of my close friends. I immersed myself into work hoping that it would fill the void. My primary goal was to regain my confidence and happiness.
Little did I know, I would not regain myself through work. In an instant, my life began to spiral downhill. An incident occurred in my life that altered my stability and I took a turn for the worse. I had become depressed and no longer had the will power to continue with my life. At this time, I had lost all power to love myself. I was fortunate enough to have close friends that supported me during this dark time in my life and they assisted in getting me out of that dark space that was consuming me.
Once I realised that I was loved by others it caused me to reexamine myself. The question posed, how were others able to love me when I did not love myself? I decided to find the answer to my question by learning to live with a purpose and make my life more meaningful. In the process, I had to learn how to love myself again. I did not regain self-love through songs or books as I did when I was a child instead, I changed my routine and looked to the horizon.
On day one of my new beginning, I awoke with a purpose. I stretched my body and started working on my physique. I decided to make a change for the better. I developed a morning routine that would allow me to exercise and eat a nutritional breakfast. This routine was far from the one that was previously in place and I felt invigorated. In that day alone I could feel the changes occurring.
Once I started to take care of my physical appearance then I could move toward the more complex aspect of things. I began to work on loving myself from the inside out. I became mindful of what I would and would not allow in my life. This gave me the opportunity to clear areas of my life that consumed too much of my time without a productive outcome. I began to tell myself yes and others no if it would disrupt my clarity and daily routine.
Previously I would commit to dinner or drinks with friends although I felt drained. I knew I could no longer say yes, all the time. These boundaries were necessary if I wanted to continue with the process of my transformation to my wellbeing. During this period, I also eliminated negative people in my life. It was vital for me to protect myself from the wrong people. I recalled the despair I felt when I had negative influences in my life. I knew that I could not have people in my life that would cloud my mental clarity again. Therefore, I replaced them with people that supported many of the same ideas that I did which created a positive circle for me. This allowed me to stay positive and keep my mental health strong.
One of the most important steps that I took in this process was learning to forgive myself. I returned to the mirror to look at the image that I once loathed and I apologised for all the times I had abandoned myself.
In a small amount of time I felt compelled to recover from years of putting myself down and not taking care of myself mentally or physically. I felt ashamed for being so productive in the workforce but lacking that productivity in my own home. The day I forgave myself unlocked the door for me to become the person that I was meant to be.
As I continued my daily routine, I decided to write love notes to myself. I would read them aloud daily to remind myself that I truly have an intense deep feeling for myself that nothing can replace, including my career. I would tell myself that I am strong mentally and physically. I have the courage to put myself first and still have a rewarding career. I have goals that I can obtain with a clear and conscious mind. I am fortunate to have survived my dark depression and most of all, I serve a purpose. These notes allowed me to continue to show myself love countless times throughout the day which made me stronger internally.
Once I learned to love myself I could create a space to love other things as well. Promoting self-love can attribute to mental clarity and physical well-being. With self-love comes courage and with courage comes strength. When we possess these two characteristics we can learn to say no to any type of relationships that that will hinder our growth in loving ourselves first.